Here There Be Monsters

From time to time, people ask if our 4-year old or I get tired of collaborating together when we draw, and so far, the answer has been a resounding “heck NO!” But to change it up a little so that we DON’T, we’ve done a few animals….and every once in awhile, we’ve started throwing some monsters in there.

Now, I’ve written about the monster doodles before, but since then, we’ve sort of expanded the process a bit.  First, they start out with me drawing a monster head, and our daughter (just like with the “people” collaborations) would draw the body & any additional scenery on them.


Several of them end up in the water, for some reason.


Following her art direction, many of them end up patterned and pink.

pinkSometimes, she gets a little elaborate with them, like this one who fell down while rollerskating…


This one, who needed a helmet before he could hop on his bike…


Or this one, who she insisted be in a rainstorm.


They’re often influenced by her little world, like this creature which came about not long after her first visit to a circus…


This one, which was of a cat-monster tossing candy to her at Halloween (that’s me in the yellow-striped shirt, picking her up)…


Or this one, which happened around the same time we made a gingerbread house for the holidays.


But the process itself REALLY started getting fun when (instead of drawing on the head I had pre-drawn) she and I started taking DIRECTION from eachother.    “Let’s make a monster!” she’d say, and I’d get out a pen.  “First step: it should have lots of eyes,” she said.  So I drew lots of eyes.  “Wings for ears.  A bird beak.”  Each time, I’d draw from her prompts in my own style.  Then when it was her turn, and she’d follow my lead.  “It should have antennae,” I said.  “Pteranadon wings.  And a dragon tail.”


Or she’d tell me, “It should have hair like Great Grandma’s (we were visiting her at the time).  LOTS of noses.  Glasses.  Lots of down-pointing teeth, and horse ears.”  Then I would tell her, “A snail body with stripes and lots of legs.”  And she would add the extra details (like a decorative mouse flashlight and a bed) on her own.


It’s another fun little exercise in collaborating with the kid.  And secretly, I know she enjoys practicing the rare moment of getting to “boss” me by telling me what to draw!  She is still a bit rigid sometimes, and insists that I “didn’t do it right,” and I insist that when you work WITH someone, there IS no “right.”  That you have to work WITH people, share their ideas, and just have fun.  It takes some getting used to, because I can see those same perfectionist tendencies in our daughter that I have–wanting things to be “just so.”  But it’s GOOD to step out of your comfort zone, and it’s GOOD to share.

So give it a try!  Sit down for a bit, take your kid’s direction, and let ‘m tell YOU what to do for a moment–just to see what happens….It doesn’t have to be with drawing; try letting them tell you what shapes to glue down, what clothes to put on, or how to decorate cupcakes.  And show me how it worked for you!

24 responses

  1. I love your art! Thank you so much for sharing your passion, they have truly made me smile.

  2. They are all so beautiful! It can be hard to relinquish control, but I’m going to make more of an effort to do so with my little one. Thank you.

    1. Thank you! It is difficult at first, but it is quite fun. If you find it difficult at first, consider running off a quick photocopy for your kid to draw on!

  3. I LOVE what you have been doing with your daughter! Such beautifully wonderful collaborations are born from your minds. My son and I used to fold a paper into thirds and then we would each draw a third of a creature without seeing what the other had previously drawn. Great fun, and I still have quite a few saved for nostalgia.
    You are a truly gifted artist, and not a shabby Mom, either!

    1. Thank you so much! That’s wonderful that you saved some of them!

  4. I love these so much!

  5. I just love your collaborations. You both have such great spirit and imagination. These are fantastic pieces of art that are like a visual journal of her childhood. I love every one of your posts!! Thanks for sharing. I always look forward to your updates 🙂

    1. Heheh! Thank you so much! I really love that people enjoy them so much–they’re so much fun for us…

  6. These artworks are so fantastic. I love your style and your use of color, and your daughter and you make a wonderful team. This is such a fun idea– thank you so much for sharing :]

    1. Thank you so much for saying so! I’m so glad people are having fun with them!

  7. Very cool! I am a sculptor and my medium is wool. I was commissioned to make a dragon for a 4 year old girl. Since I usually sculpt realistic animals, this was quite a challenge. I enlisted the help of the girl who would own the dragon. She laid out all the colors and that it would have scales down the back and be standing up, etc. SO much fun. She would come by my booth at the farmers market to check my progress and give me suggestions. Both of us were pleased with the outcome. To date, still the only fantasy creature I’ve sculpted.

    1. That’s amazing! Love your work; something I’ve never done before. And I love that you asked the GIRL to collaborate on it with you!

  8. Hi! I’ve really enjoyed following your blogs, not only because you are collaborating, and doing it with your daughter [mom here], but mostly because you’ve let go of the control of your own art – collaborations can certainly take us places we’d never go on our own. On to the point…I am part of a nonprofit art collective in Issaquah Wa., and we are doing a fundraiser that is all about collaboration – 150’ of Art/Collaobrated – we provide the 12”x12” canvas for any kind of collaboration in any medium. You and your daughter embody what we are pushing forward with this event – so I’m wondering if the two of you would consider doing a piece and donating it for us – I’ll mail a canvas to you, the due date is March 1 – this is a link to the bla bla about it all, in case you will consider – – and if it doesn’t work for you, no worries, thanks for all your posting!

    1. Thank you so much! I appreciate it! I wish we could, but we have a lot going on these next couple of months…. My husband is still deployed, and I’ve got a talk coming up….I’m not sure I’d be able to meet the deadline! I hope you understand….and I wish you guys the best of luck–it sounds like an awesome project!

  9. This post reminded me of my favorite part about being an art teacher (I’m retired now)…the big surprise of how the kids interpreted and solved the problems at hand. I always felt like, “wow, I wish I’d thought of that!”. And you are right- the days they provided some of the direction were the most fun of all!

    1. Most definitely! Thank you

  10. […] I continue to be fascinated by The Busy Mockingbird’s art projects with her daughter. […]

  11. Every time I see these I remind myself I want to do this with my grandkids. Just have to prioritize better!!

  12. I love these so so much.

  13. Your Talent has lifted my spirit!!!You Are Very Gifted!!!
    Thank You

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